Energy Efficiency on Campus

NREL ensures the resiliency of our future energy systems through energy efficiency strategies and technologies and renewable energy on the NREL campus.



NREL is committed to the efficient use of resources, including energy. Energy efficiency strategies and technologies integrated throughout the campus include:

  • ENERGY STAR-certified equipment
  • Insulation
  • Natural ventilation
  • Daylighting
  • Passive heating and cooling
  • Plug-load management
  • Monitoring- based commissioning.

NREL's Intelligent Campus program examines actual versus projected energy use as the campus continues to expand, adding several Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum buildings over the years.


NREL meters electricity, thermal consumption, and energy use intensity in all buildings. All NREL facilities that use natural gas have whole-building gas meters and, where appropriate, all renewable energy production and consumption is metered. NREL uses an energy dashboard and other tools to continuously track energy generation and consumption.

Renewable Energy

NREL's campus is powered in part by renewable energy sources, including solar, wind, and biomass power.

On-site Renewable Energy Portfolio: Fiscal Year 2021

In FY 2021, 15% of electricity used on NREL's campus came from solar and wind power. 5.4 megawatts from solar (11%) and 7 megawatts from wind power (4%).
45% of district heating came from 9 MBtu/hour and 18,668 MBtus of biomass power.

Roof-mounted solar panels atop a grey building.


Photovoltaic systems at the South Table Mountain Campus and Flatirons Campus have a total capacity of 4.5 MW. PV systems are either directly purchased or acquired through power purchase agreements, and the renewable energy credits from the majority of these systems are sold to Xcel Energy to support the State of Colorado's Renewable Portfolio Standard. NREL purchases replacement renewable energy credits for these systems each fiscal year.

Aerial view of a wind turbine at NREL's Flatirons Campus.


Wind turbines at the Flatirons Campus have 7 MW of installed capacity, including turbines used for research.

Wood-fired hot water boiler and woodchips.


NREL's Renewable Fuel Heating Plant is a 9-MBtu/hour woodchip-fired boiler that uses woodchips from sustainable forest thinning. The plant provides about one-half of the heat delivered to NREL's South Table Mountain campus central heating system. There are two ground-source heat pumps on South Table Mountain. Solar thermal energy technologies, including ventilation air preheating systems and Trombe walls, are incorporated throughout NREL's campus .

Energy Mix

This infographic shows NREL's Fiscal Year 2020 energy consumption by fuel type. The South Table Mountain campus consumed energy from grid electricity, natural gas, biomass, and solar photovoltaics. The Flatirons Campus consumed energy from grid electricity, natural gas, solar photovoltaics, and wind production.

South Table Mountain Campus

This infographic shows NREL's South Table Mountain (STM) campus FY2021 energy consumption by fuel type. The STM campus consumed 134,930 MBtu from grid electricity; 50,563 MBtu from natural gas; 18,668 MBtu from biomass; and 12,471 MBtu from solar photovoltaics. The overall energy use intensity of the STM campus as 190 kBtu/GSF in FY 2021.

Flatirons Campus

This infographic shows NREL's Flatirons campus FY2021 energy consumption by fuel type. The Flatirons campus consumed 6,710 MBtu from grid electricity; 4,098 MBtu from natural gas; 2,754 MBtu from solar photovoltaics; and 1,999 MBtu from wind production. In addition, the Flatirons campus exported 8,429 MBTU of energy from solar photovoltaic and wind production. The energy use intensity for the Flatirons campus was 167 kBtu/GSF in FY2021.